As with many young players in England, my dream of becoming a professional footballer started at an early age. After spending eight years at Notts County FC as a youngster I was given my first team debut at the age of seventeen. However the year after, a season long injury saw me released from the club. Devastated and unsure on my next move, I was offered the chance to play and study in Florida on a four-year university scholarship. I accepted and weeks later found myself on a plane half-way across the Atlantic - a move that would soon become the best decision of my life.
During my time in Florida I lived, played and studied with young people from all over the world. In my first game for the university the countries being represented on our starting team alone included: America, England, Argentina, Bermuda, Haiti, Japan, Jamaica, Brazil and Germany. The diversity of cultures within the university was just one of the many factors that contributed to the amazing experience. Meeting people from so many different cultures and backgrounds very quickly opened my eyes and I soon realised that there really was more to life than football!
Coming from a footballing background, I was very unsure on what I wanted to study. On the first day I sat down with an academic advisor who presented me with a long list of classes. "Pick three, any three", she said. The list included every single entry level class under all degrees offered at the university - these were called electives. I would have to take twelve of these classes over the first two years, three each semester, along with studying core courses in Maths, English, Science and Humanities. This was the university's way of giving every student the opportunity to dip their toe into other fields of study which they may not have experienced or even been aware of before. With this, students were not required to submit their final degree choice until the end of their second year - this suited me perfectly.
My elective choices in my first semester were: Introduction to World Trade, Graphic Design 101, and Film Appreciation 101. I really enjoyed my business class and after the first year had already made up my mind that this would be what I would get my degree in. At the end of my second year I submitted my decision to my academic advisor and for my remaining two years did nothing other than advanced and specialist classes within that field. One of the other players on the team from London, Matty, decided that the Film Appreciation class we studied our first semester would be the route he'd go down. He went on to get a degree in Film Production and soon after secured a job in downtown Miami with Crispin Porter + Bogusky who have produced advertising campaigns for such companies as Burger King, Netflix and Infiniti.
At the end of my four years in Florida, I had obtained a degree in International Business and World Trade, continued to play the sport I love and experienced another country and many other cultures exactly 4,333 miles away from home. Whereas my options were limited after being released from Notts County, this time round they were endless. I decided to move home to Nottingham soon after graduating and founded my own company, Vertex Soccer. My company recruits young footballers who have been released from professional youth teams up and down the country and places them at the most elite university soccer programs in the USA. It is great to give the opportunity I had back to many other young aspiring footballers and is quite simply the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
To find out more about studying International Business and World Trade at Lynn University visit the Lynn University website.
Sam Craven, International Business and World Trade student
Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida USA